Soiled by oil scandal, Brazil’s model is primed for makeover

Juan Pablo Spinetto, Anna Edgerton, Sabrina Valle – Bloomberg Business, 05/27/2015

Oil was to be the elixir of Brazil’s dreams to build a formidable economy, promote industrial development and fund a more generous welfare state even as it attracted billions in private global investment.

Instead, crisis and disappointment in the oil sector are beckoning Brazil’s leadership to move — if grudgingly — toward more deregulated industries and to temper the government’s hand in using state-run companies to forge broader economic policy.

Which helps explain why, as her second term takes shape, some of President Dilma Rousseff’s ministers have jettisoned the statist language of her first four years in office and those of her popular predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Instead, they are floating some liberal notions more in keeping with the pre-Lula years.

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Ex-president’s relationship with Odebrecht scrutinized in Brazil

Blake Schmidt – Bloomberg, 5/2/2015

Brazil’s federal prosecutors have initiated a preliminary inquiry as to whether former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva used his influence to persuade the state development bank to help finance projects of one of Brazil’s biggest industrial conglomerates, according to media reports.

The weekly Epoca magazine was the first to report an inquiry into alleged influence-peddling involving the politician’s speaking engagements abroad. The magazine reported on Friday that Brazil’s development bank, BNDES, had financed Odebrecht SA construction projects in countries whose leaders Lula had met with.

Lula, Odebrecht and BNDES have each denied any wrongdoing.

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Ricardo Lewandowski: Brazil’s Rising Chief Justice

Shannon Sims – OZY, 7/25/2014

A chance encounter sometimes makes history.

Like when lawyer Ricardo Lewandowski’s mom invited his good childhood friend Laerte Demarchi to lunch in the early 1990s.

“I told her I already had plans, that I was meeting a union organizer at my dad’s restaurant,” Demarchi recalls. “She said to bring him over, too.”

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Brazil and Africa: the southern link

Claudia Valenzuela – Public Finance International, 7/22/2014

Growth, opportunity and potential have ricocheted across Brazil and the African continent in recent years. While other more mature markets are only just beginning to click into gear after the financial crisis, the economies of Brazil and Africa have enjoyed better times as a result of rising popularity with foreign investors, and burgeoning domestic markets driven by an expanding middle class and abundant natural reserves.

Africa, in particular, is picking up the pace. It’s perceived attractiveness relative to other regions has improved dramatically over the past few years, according to EY’s recent Africa attractiveness survey, moving from the third-from-last position in 2011 to become the second most attractive investment destination in the world. Its total share of global FDI projects has also reached the highest level in a decade, with investors increasingly looking across the continent and to new sectors.

An African horizon

While separated by the vast expanse of the southern Atlantic Ocean, the fact that, millions of years ago, Africa and Brazil were joined in a single landmass, and continue to share similarities in soil and climate, serves as a far more apt geographic metaphor. The increasingly close relationship between the two began during the Presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who himself traveled to Africa 12 times in the 1990s, visiting 21 countries in the process. This pattern has continued under his successor, Dilma Rousseff, who, for example, visited Angola, Mozambique and South Africa during her first year in office.

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Brazil’s ‘Quilombo’ Movement May Be The World’s Largest Slavery Reparations Program

Roque Planas – Huffington Post, 7/10/2014

When Luiz Pinto was growing up, his parents wouldn’t let the family talk about slavery. The issue raised ugly memories.

Pinto’s grandmother was born into slavery. She threw herself into a river before Pinto was born, taking her own life after the son of a wealthy, white landowner raped her. The subjects of slavery and racism became taboo in the Pinto household, a sprawling set of orange brick homes perched on a hilltop where Rio de Janeiro’s famed statue of Christ the Redeemer is visible in the distance through the trees.

“I only knew her from photographs,” says Pinto, a 72-year-old samba musician.

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The goal of projecting the country overseas is still a distant one

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva – Folha de S. Paulo, 5/31/2014

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Ten years ago on August 18th, with then President Lula in the audience, the Brazilian national soccer team with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho Gaúcho, beat Haiti in Port au Prince 6-0 in what was called the “Match of Peace.”

The event symbolized the Brazilian presence as the head of the UN mission in Haiti since 2004.

President Lula’s decision to accept this mission had to do with his ambition to project the country in the international stage as a first class actor even in areas that do not align with the country’s innate geopolitical interests.

Among the objectives on this agenda was gaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Lula’s willingness to take the lead with MINUSTAH was very well received by the U.S. Administration under George W. Bush.

Haiti, an extremely unstable and poor country, has been an issue of concern for Washington due to its geographical location, ever since its independence in 1804. Continue reading “The goal of projecting the country overseas is still a distant one”

Brazil-Africa: Trans-Atlantic ties

The Africa Report, 6/20/2014

Brasília Teimosa, an oceanfront settlement in the north-eastern city of Recife, is gentrifying. Rents are rising, and homes are taking on new floors and replacing their weather-beaten facades with gleaming ceramic tiles studded with aluminium doors and windows. Hotel porter Romualdo Andrade, 45, points out a series of steel street lights being installed to replace the concrete ones. They are more resistant to the salt-strewn breeze from the shark-infested ocean, he explains. “The only thing that resists the salt breeze is ugly girls,” Andrade says, laughing.

He traces the turning point to about a decade ago, when President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva spearheaded a four-part regeneration project that involved pulling down the least habitable of the settlement’s structures – while paying the occupants a monthly allowance to enable them to rent proper housing – and building a sea wall, roads and parks.

About five decades ago, Brasília Teimosa was a proper slum full of houses on stilts that rose out of the swamp. The Teimosa in its name means stubborn, Andrade says – a testament to the resistance its earliest inhabitants put up in the face of government attempts to demolish the slum and pave way for the reassignment of the prized land to developers of luxury apartments and hotels.

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